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  • do you remember father birmingham?

In late 1994 Paul Cultrera, helped by his brother Joe, his girlfriend Lee and her relatives, placed an ad in local newspapers in each of the towns where Birmingham had been stationed, asking "Do you remember Father Birmingham?" Here are some of the letters he received and Paul's reply to one of those who wrote back.

[image of letter]


To whom it may concern:

Yes I do .... remember father Birmingham! I am interested in finding out the following:

  • who are you?

  • or, who do you represent?

  • what is your intent?

Please contact me at your earliest convenience. If your intent is as I expect I can probably be of assistance to you.


[image of letter]

February 24, 1995

To Whom It May Concern:

I am responding to your ad which appeared in the Allston/Brighton Journal. I did know Father Joseph Birmingham and am very curious as to why you are looking for him.

If you wish to respond please mail you respone [sic] to the following address : [REDACTED]

[image of letter]

Who are you?

What would you like to know?

I remember Him very well!

He's been dead about 5 yrs.

Thank God!

[image of letter]

To Whom it may Concern:

Yes-- I do remember Father Joseph Birmingham.

He was a priest at St Ann's Parish School. I attended that School in 1983-1985, 7th to 8th Grade. He would get me out of school to "council" [sic] me in the St Ann's Rectory. His private quarters.

Is this concerning what I think


Please write back

[image of letter]

January 5, [1995]

111 East 14th Street
Suite 189
New York, NY 10003

I was forwarded your ad in the Salem Evening News regarding the Rev. J. E. Birmingham. There are several of us St. James classmates (Troop 24 Boy Scouts, Altar Boys) from the mid-60's who had close contact with Fr. B.

Could you give us some information regarding what has renewed interest in the man who had a hand in our development during junior high?

St. James School Alumni

[image of letter]

January 23, 1995

111 East 14th Street
Suite 189
New York, NY 10003


When I originally answered your ad regarding Father Birmingham I thought it might be in regard to sexual molestation. I believe I might be of help to you as Fr. Birmingham did attempt to molest me on more than one occasion. The two incidents I remember occurred in the rectory, in I believe 1963. I remember the year based on the car he was driving at the time, a black 1963 Ford XL with red bucket seats.

His first attempt came after a weekend CYO skiing trip when we arrived back at the church. I needed to call home for a ride and he directed me to the phone in the rectory... once in the rectory we went to his room where he began to molest me, he was interrupted by another priest. The second occasion was a few weeks later when he called me out of CYO class, he often called kids out of CYO to go to the rectory. I got away from him on that occasion and he never bothered me again, however, I rarely went back to CYO again. I usually just skipped with a couple of other kids after our parents dropped us off... we never told each other anything but I know we were skipping because of the invitations to the rectory.

I have not discussed the particulars of my encounters with anyone although when I saw your ad I did mention it to another person who I felt might have had a similar experience... I understand he has contacted you. I would request that at this time you honor my request for confidentiality in the matters I have brought to your attention. If you choose to pursue the matter further I would be available to speak to you.


[image of letter]

March 7, 1995


Thank you for responding to my ad about Father Birmingham. I placed the ad in an effort to find people who remembered Father Birmingham and who could help me. When Father Birmingham came to St. James parish in Salem, Massachusetts in 1964, I was an altar boy there. Father Birmingham quickly befriended the altar boys and other boys in the parish, and took us on trips to the movies, skiing, etc. . He was also involved in the parish CYO. I was glad to have a priest who paid so much attention to me and my friends.

Then things changed. Starting in 1965, I was sexually molested by Father Birmingham on numerous occasions. Feeling instantly ashamed, I kept this fact a secret, and only recently have begun to seek help in dealing with the many repercussions of those events. For close to 30 years, I blamed myself for what happened, unable to step out of the fear I experienced as a teenager. Now that I am looking at the experience as an adult, I realize that I was not to blame. Rather, Father Birmingham, an adult in a very powerful position, took advantage of a trusting boy who came to him as his confessor. He used my faith in him as a holy man and my belief in the sanctity of the confessional to lure me into his perversion, traumatizing me in the process in a way that has taken me 30 years to begin to find the strength to overcome.

For all the years that I was silent, one of the greatest pains that I felt was thinking that I was alone, the only person Father Birmingham molested. I now realize that it is unlikely that I was his only victim. I feel a need to speak with others who may have had the same thing happen to them, so that we may be able to help each other in the healing process. I believe that continuing to maintain the silence that often surrounds sexual abuse damages and endangers us all. I understand that Father Birmingham served as a parish priest at St. Columbkille's in Brighton from 1979 through 1985, so I placed an ad in the Allston-Brighton Journal to see if I could make contact with anyone who knew him there.

If you responded to this ad because either you or someone you know had a similar experience with Father Birmingham and you would like to communicate about it, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. Due to the nature of this matter, I am choosing to remain anonymous at this time, and will honor any response of yours with any degree of confidentiality that you request of me. If you can help me, we can communicate through the following address:

111 East 14th Street
Suite 189
New York, N. Y. 10003

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posted jan. 16, 2007

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